The prelude to this post is that I have recently ruined my life by introducing my nearly 2 year old to a “big girl bed”. In non public forums I am referring to it by a slightly longer, less family-friendly name involving all the swear words.
Last Thursday I had my performance review, and earlier in the week I did those for the people I manage. It occurred to me that I also manage my baby, and that she should not be excluded from the process, so here’s her review.
Hannah has had a successful year at being a baby, having met or exceeded the majority of her objectives. These have included being cute, walking, eating solids and growing teeth. She has also met the objective concerning sleep however there is room for improvement in this area. She has also given added value to her job by being a highly competent entertainer. Feedback from stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive; Nanny and Grandad have been impressed by her cuteness and trampoline bouncing, Grandma and Grandad agree that she is cute and funny (although Grandma did note a number of smelly nappies), and the nursery staff have all noted the strength of her eating capabilities. The nurse, however, did note that she is under confident when it comes to injections and Daddy has recommended sleep at weekends as an area for improvement. Mummy also noted her disappointment at a recent milk vomiting incident although it must be underlined that this arose because of Hannah’s attempt to make Mummy laugh instead of going to sleep.
Specific deliverables have included walking early – a significant achievement- growing 8 teeth on time and managing the complex milk to solids project. She has also successfully negotiated the stairs and has knocked down a number of towers made with stacking cups. At the mid year review stage I noted a lack of confidence with her toy frog however she has overcome this and I am pleased to say that she now tries to feed him milk in the mornings.
Hannah should be proud of her achievements this year and I believe she will attain a high position in the performance/achievement ladder of her peers.
As readers of this blog will know, I like to moan a lot about how tired I am. There’s no getting away from it, I am tired all the time and can go to sleep at any moment. This is largely because my daughter has started to get up really early, at 5am every day. Now, I know that some of you will be reading this and thinking “Ha! That’s nothing! 5am sounds like a dream”. And you are absolutely right. That my daughter affords me at least 6 or 7 hours of sleep per night is wonderful. I am, nevertheless, still tired and have been since about September 2013.
This does not, however, mean that other people aren’t more tired than me, and I’ve noticed a certain amount of playful competition going on with other parents in that regard. Enter Mr. “Shit I’m going to miss my train” (see previous post), who was remarkably two minutes early for nursery today, as was I. Mr. Smile (a friend who I like very much, and whose daughter goes to the same nursery) says hello and asks how I am. “Tired. Up at 5.30 again” was as much as I could muster (I am known for my plain speaking). Mr. Smile boldy counters by telling me that his daughter woke them up at 7.30am. That was just too much for Mr SIGTMMT who entered the conversation by saying “11!!!! 1!!!! 3!!!! 5!!!!”. It took me a few moments to register that he wasn’t just shouting out sequential numbers but was talking about when his son, who is only a month or two younger than my child and Mr. Smiley’s child, woke him and his wife up last night. Poor Mr and Mrs SIGTMMT.
The amusing thing about this was the brief conversation which ensued, since it appeared that Mr and Mrs SIGTMMT argued at every waking-point about who should get up and “sort him out”. That had us all nodding in sage agreement, since we’ve all had morning arguments about who has the busiest day ahead, who did it last time, who the baby wants etc. You both fight hard for your corner. You both press your case. You both don’t feel like being nice at 3am (or 5am in our case). But the baby is still crying, so one of you capitulates and then has amunition for the rest of the day – “who’s making dinner”? (not me, I got up at 3am); “who’s turn is it to do the bins”? (not me, I got up at 3am); “can I put the sport on”? (no, I got up at 3am) and so on and so forth.
In the end, it doesn’t matter who wins the war. But perhaps I’m only saying that because it was, today, my husband who capitulated. And because the truth of the matter is that we are fortunate to have a little girl who has slept through since she was about 4 months old (sorry sorry sorry but it is true). So while it is true that I am always tired, I really need to applaud and salute those parents who get through the day having got up at ridiculous o’clock however many times with a baby who, despite being amazing, the centre of their world and otherwise a joy, is a little sleep depriving s*d at 3 in the morning.
I have a toddler. Over night she decided she now walks. Everywhere. Though scared at first (afore warned as I was by friends with older children) I can say I’m heartily loving this stage**.
Today we went to Tesco and though it took an hour and a half to buy seven items, she walked and walked and walked some more. She stopped to poke at/try to kiss other toddlers, she investigated everything in her eye line, she grabbed a strange man’s leg, she was enthralled by the whole experience. Back home I decided to clear out her old clothes and she toddled back and forth between rooms, picking up items that were previously chewable but have now become lethal when held in her mouth whilst walking.
Come bedtime my previously rampant tot just fell asleep on the bottle. Just fell asleep, right there, on the bottle.
It’s a miracle.
I mean, I’m currently looking after her full time, but this toddler stage is a doddle! I can’t imagine how her insistence on walking is going to get annoying when I actually have to be somewhere, it will definitely be a breeze when she starts running and I’m definitely not worried about the day there is traffic and she decides that holding my hand isn’t fun anymore…***
* I know it’s not
** We are on day 3
*** Scared. So scared.
When I woke up (was woken up) prematurely this morning we went through our usual wake up routine of “I’ll pour the milk, you go and get her”. I took her downstairs and I checked my phone and looked at an app which reminded me that exactly one year ago my husband and I had a huge argument about responsibility and how hard it is looking after a baby. I remember that argument well; I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours for 2 months, my boobs were full and sore, our house was a chaotic mess of baby and boxes (we’d recently moved in) and my daughter wouldn’t stop crying. I can even remember thinking that there was no way that our marriage would last……well I am happy to say that it’s a little over a year since our tiny bundle of joy entered the world and we are still very much together, and very happy. Other things which have surprised me:
1. I have discovered a new kind of tiredness. Bad news- the tiredness never ends; you just learn to cope with it. Actually, you just find a new kind of tiredness.
2. Babies fart. I didn’t realise this (I know I’m stupid) and it came as a big shock when she did her first blow off. I have also regressed and joined my daughter in finding farts funny again.
3. I don’t feel guilty about going to work. I know some mothers do, but I dont. I adore my girl and I wish that I could spend more time with her, but I’ve got used to sending her to nursery and get a huge rush every day when I pick her up. It’s wonderful knowing that she has had a great day of playing and learning with people who are more experienced in child development than me, and I enjoy my dual role of pen pusher and mother again. I even don’t mind that my daughter has a girl crush on one of the nursery nurses – Zaneta that’s you- because I know that Mummy is number 1.
4. Work is better. I work because I have to. When I went back, I went back to the same job. It’s satisfying and rewarding to me, and I make more of an effort than I did before- mainly because I want to, whereas before I felt that it was just sort of expected. However, as I explained to my manager just before my mid year appraisal I don’t really care anymore, which makes my decision making more rational. Or something like that.
5. I am not heartbroken when my baby cries. I find it quite annoying sometimes. It’s heart breaking when she is hurt or in pain, and I want to make it all better for her, but when it’s a case of “I want the remote control” or something like that, it’s irritating.
6. I am superwoman. I don’t think that my husband realised this when he married me, and I certainly didn’t reveal my powers to him until I gave birth. I have the power to reproduce. The power to comfort a screaming baby. The power to put a baby to sleep. The power to maintain a clean(ish) house, a full time job, a full-up husband, and a baby that is still alive after 13 months of being assigned to us.
7. How amazing she is. I thought that would die down a bit, but every time I look at her she has a new expression, or does something that I didn’t know she could do, or when she responds to something I didn’t think she’d understand, I get a huge rush of love and just want to pick her up and cuddle and kiss her. This happens practically on a second by second basis.
I love my new life. It’s totally weird and different, and there is plenty I would change, but I love it. Thank you my little miracle baby.
When my baby was 7 weeks old smuggins over here knew NOTHING. “My baby is sleeping through!” I’d crow, skipping through the flat noisily at 11pm. In the daytime I’d put her down in her cot for a nap and walk out merrily, revelling in the silence of my sleeping angel child.
Fast forward to, yep you guessed it, teething and holy God were we in for it. At 5.5 months the appearance of The Teething Monster coincided with us packing up to move house and blithely saying to each other “Shall we use her room for box storage?” “Yes she can come in with us” “Oh yes that’ll be no bother”
So The Teething Monster arrived and my formerly awesome self soother transformed. It happened gradually you see, an extra long hand holding here, a night feed there, until at 7 months we’d been reduced to blithering sleep deprived maniacs at each other’s throats at 4am trying to get her to sleep after the 18th time of her waking up. Every time my husband turned over in bed she’d stir, every time she stirred we’d wake up, if we dared to speak she’d be bolt upright trying to pull herself up and if we left her she’d cry like her world was ending.
It gets worse. Our sale fell through. Yep. It took until she was 11 months old before we finally moved. By that time she was waking up approximately 378 times a night and at the stage where naps would only be considered if we attempted them at exactly the right time of day, precise location, hand holding position and astrological alignment. Our daughter had become a complete and total sleep diva.
My husband and I woke up livid, spent the day livid and went to bed livid. It was a dark, dark time.
Then the move happened and because of the angle of the door, the movers couldn’t get her cot into her new nursery. As soon as they left, knackered beyond belief, hungry, thirsty and still traumatised from another night from hell with baby JLo, I got out my screwdriver and got on my hands and knees. Silently, my husband joined me until (somewhat jubilantly) we placed the cot in the nursery, amid the boxes, and shut the door.
Needless to say, after mini Mariah was deposited in her own room that first night, we simply traipsed blearily 375 times into her room, down to the kitchen (now heartbreakingly 2 floors below) and back to bed, lying tensely waiting for the next cry.
It took 2 more weeks before we were mentally ready to sleep train her. One night after a particularly traumatising 4am conversation involving the word “aaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhhhh” we decided. Enough was enough.
We looked it up. We looked at each other and we silently nodded in solidarity. That beautiful little insomniac needed taking down a peg or ten.
Night one. A fresh DVD box set ready, we gave her a bath, warm milk, read her a story, and kissed her goodnight, turned on her dream sheep and got the hell out of there. What followed can only be described as intensely traumatic. There’s a very good reason why the sound of a baby screaming is used as a torture method. That shit is awful. She wailed, she screamed, she stood waiting for me to come back with tears and snot pouring from her little red face, sweat slicking her hair back like a Soprano, eyes wide and scared. It was dreadful. There was so much cortisol and adrenaline flooding my body that if a wild lion had walked in on me at that moment, I could have killed it with my bare hands.
Ten minutes later we suddenly turned to each other – the sound, the terrible, awful, gut wrenching sound…had stopped. Now to how check she was still alive whilst avoiding waking her…in a very old house with very creaky stairs (there was commando crawling involved).
She was asleep. Mission accomplished. That night she woke once, one visit from me and she was back down with not a murmur.
The next day we put her down, endured just 5 minutes of the noise from hell and that was it.
I woke up the next morning at 4am in a cold sweat, I ran into her room mentally rehearsing what I’d learned from my paediatric first aid app and there she was, sleeping peacefully like a soft pink cherub.
The next night just 3 minutes of moderate whinging and another full night’s sleep. Thereafter I’d turn her over after her story, kiss her goodnight and skip downstairs like a pilled up pixie high fiving myself all the way (my poor, traumatised husband conveniently had 3 work Christmas parties that week so missed most of it).
Aaaaaaand breathe. Sleep was once again mine for the taking, I could go to bed without a stomach knotted in dread at how long I’d actually get to sleep before she woke up the first time.
After that first week I would have gone on stage in front of the world and extolled the virtues of the so-called CIO method.
All sorted. Life was good again. Job done. Thank you and goodnight.
Except 2 weeks later she got a bug.
Then it was Christmas.
So here I sit after 3 weeks of Sleep Diva’s return, back on day 1 of training. This time I invested in a video monitor which is currently sitting on my lap finally displaying a sleeping baby. This time was worse than the first time with an hour and 50 minutes of repeating the scream-lie her down-shh-exit cycle and I fear the older she gets the harder it will be to re-train her. For now though, it’s finally quiet.
But if a wild lion walks in now, it’s dead meat.
I think my inner mummy bear is coming out.
My poor little guy has been teething like crazy for the past 10 days and we’re finally starting to see some little white tips just under his gums. He’s been crying in pain before going to sleep and I’ve been giving him all sorts of things to help, from painkillers to hocus pocus powder (ok, homeopathic powder) to tons of extra cuddles. It’s been hard going for all of us, but it won’t be forever.
Thing is that it’s making me even more protective over my baby than before. Take tonight, I had the chance to go out on my own and drink cocktails with the girls. I could have had a whole evening baby-free, eating at a leisurely pace, enjoying whole conversations, drinking cocktails! But I couldn’t do it. I knew that little Jim would go to sleep eventually and that my other half could take care of him but I just had to be here. It’s a very strange feeling. Now I know what a paper clip feels like when it gets stuck on a magnet.
The saving grace is that while I can’t tear myself away from him at the moment, I don’t mind at all. It’s down to him that I have a whole new way of life, new people, new places, I’m fitter than I used to be, more confident. I can definitely put up with staying in tonight.
(Note-to-self: I O U one night out drinking cocktails)
We’ve made it to the 5 week mark and as things have started to settle down, I’ve done a Carrie Bradshaw and got to thinking about what I’ve learnt… if anything.
Shiny things – Like Magpies, babies love shiny things. You can try all you want to get your newborn to look at your face but unless you have wrapped yourself in tinfoil they won’t be interested. Family members may encourage you by saying “She recognises her Mummy” whilst pointing the baby in your general direction but you know the truth. If she does actually turn her head to look at you, you feel a flicker of warmth and then you realise…. you are sitting in front of a photo frame or a mirror or a particularly reflective light fitting. The same goes for windows and people with dark hair and ‘ghosts’ as I read on one forum. Not a big deal but don’t patronise me by saying she’s looking at me.
Boredom – Years ago I was holding my friend’s newborn and I shared this gem with her: “Newborns are boring, aren’t they?” She looked at me like I’d called her baby a gremlin and took said gremlin back immediately, just in case I dropped it out of boredom. Touché. Now that I have a newborn of my own, I cringe at my remark to that glowing new mother and as I hold my gorgeous daughter in my arms, I think….. I was totally right! Newborns are well boring!! There’s only so much staring at her face I can do before reaching for my phone/the remote/some food.
I didn’t really do myself any favours, my daughter was a stubborn little wotsit and clung to my uterine walls until she was evicted at 41+5. That meant that I had 6 weeks of maternity leave before she even showed up where I mainly stayed indoors and watched trashy TV. But that was okay because ‘soon I was going to be really busy!’ When we took her home, I found myself staying indoors and watching trashy TV. Sigh! Sure there was the nappy changing and feeding but newborns sleep …….. a lot……. “Why didn’t you get out and about?” I hear you say. “C-section!” I shout back at you. That meant no driving because you use your abdomen to drive a car, oh no wait, I have no idea why I wasn’t allowed to drive. Anyway, I kept going on walks but wouldn’t get too far. I was like Harry Potter – if my scar started to hurt, I knew something ominous was about to happen – so I would head for home having filled a measly 15 minutes.
So quiet frankly, prepare for the boredom; book in visitors, get lots of snacks, take up a hobby (A one handed hobby – this is where CandyCrush comes in useful) find a box set to get into or watch lots of trashy TV. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that the boring times won’t last forever (We’re now mobile and much happier) and all of that time indoors with your newborn is useful – it has helped you become an expert on hoarders and 600lb people.
Don’t have any expectations about the birth and you won’t be disappointed – This one particularly irritates me because I was very much blasé about the whole birth thing. I didn’t make a birth plan and had the opinion of ‘There are many ways that my baby can come into the world so there’s no point worrying about it.’ This attitude made me very accepting of the fact that in the end, I had to have a c-section. However, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my baby and I would be separated and for a long time. I vaguely entertained the notion that they might have to go into special care but I never put that scenario together with the c-section scenario which resulted in me being immobile and my baby being on the other side of the hospital fighting for her life. Bad times. She’s fine now by the way. Good times. I had visions of my family coming onto the ward, me with my bundle of joy in my arms being showered with praise and love and champagne. Actually, my mum turned up when my catheter was being taken out and couldn’t hold her grandchild for 8 days to reduce the chance of infection. I’m not saying you should expect awful things to happen because they probably won’t, but just realise that your ideal scenario is just that, an ideal, and we don’t live in an ideal world. However….
You might get lucky – I hate being asked “How is she sleeping?” for the ridiculous reason of my having to answer “She sleeps really well.” Ditto “Are you tired?” because I have to respond “No.” I feel like people think I’m lying to show them up or I’m a fraud, I’ve broken some kind of new parent code. However, she does sleep really well. When we first met her she was an incredibly sleepy baby, doctors said this was a recovery sleep to sleep off the effects of the hypoxia. After 4 days she was still sleepy but I was told to wake her every 3 hours to feed her. Then someone else told us to demand feed. I of course listened to their advice because it meant no more waking her, and me, every 3 hours. So, we put her to bed and then we went to bed, I turned my alarm off and rolled over. 6 hours later, I sat bolt upright thinking she had died! She hadn’t. I fed her and put her down where she slept another 3 hours. This is how it has been since day 13 other than the 3 nights where she slept right through 10-6. I know we are very lucky, I can’t explain it, all I know is that I expected to feel like a zombie and actually I wake up most mornings feeling refreshed. Before you hate me too much, be comforted by the fact that I find it very hard to enjoy it. Typical. Cruel fate has me waking up and looking at my watch and instead of being pleased, I panic that she has overheated or dehydrated, or overheated AND dehydrated AND I can’t shake the ominous feeling that it could be something to do with the hypoxia……
Overwhelming love – Something that I was told lots but was of little comfort to me when it was actually happening was “Don’t worry if you don’t feel an overwhelming sensation of love for them straight away.” Lots of people do, lots of people don’t. I definitely did not. I didn’t see her come out, all I saw was them hold up this slumped, wizened, blue, grumpy old man caked in poo, lots and lots of poo. She went out of sight and got resuscitated, then she came back so “Mummy could have a cuddle”. Mummy didn’t have a ‘cuddle’. Mummy was lying down whilst a surgical team did the Handjive whilst holding her internal organs. Mummy just poked her nose and said “Hi”.
I then didn’t see my baby until 20 hours later, by which point I was beginning to doubt I’d even had a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her, I thought she was really pretty and I liked holding her but she didn’t feel like mine, I had no affinity with her. I was worried about her and scared for her but didn’t mind leaving her and going back to my ward. I definitely loved going and getting coffees with my husband and not having to change her nappy. On day 5 she got moved into a room with me, no more nurses, “This is it” I thought, ” Bonding time!” but I just went through the motions for the next week or so, doing everything I knew I had to do but not knowing why. I worried a lot that I was a crappy Mum and a bad person and that because of this I was more likely to leave her outside Tesco or drop her or put Strongbow in her bottle, I’d already given her a dummy, where was it going to end!? Slowly day by day we got to know each other and each day I loved her more than the day before and it all started making a bit more sense. I genuinely think it has only been in the last week or so that I’ve got to the point where I can say “I love you” to her and actually know that I really do. I can tell that I do in the strangest of ways. I hear a song on the radio and it makes me think of how I feel about her, I don’t listen to what my husband’s saying because I just want to tell him about the poo she did earlier and I can’t watch Jeremy Kyle anymore (Shame.) because I’m so scared that someone will break her heart. However I know that if that happens, I will be there to rip out their eyeballs and burn them. This is overwhelming love.
Hannah is asleep IN HER COT DURING THE DAY. This is remarkable, however I have a delivery due and am on tenterhooks as to whether the doorbell will wake her. By the end of this blog we will know…….
I am still very much the kind of mother who worries that her baby has somehow managed to injure herself or suffocate while I haven’t been supervising her, despite being in a grobag, and not having the ability to walk or even roll over. I probably take it too far – in fact I know I do. I have a video monitor which I check nearly all the time, I do 15 minute checks on her and I will always be suspicious of silence. It’s my OCD way of being on the safe side.
Hannah has always gone to sleep in my arms during the day until recently when I decided that enough was enough and that she would just have to go down in her cot. The house is a tip (see Anna’s earlier post), the bins need to be put out, and more importantly she won’t be able to rely on me to get her to sleep when I go back to work. Easier said than done – it takes a pretty strong woman to listen to a baby crying their heart out because they are tired and want to be held. However I will persevere because, for us, that’s the best thing to do for our girl.
For me “Sleep Policy” is an issue where lots of parents disagree, and that in the end your parenting style will tell you what’s best for your baby. It’s been the toughest thing for me to think through so far. But our sleep policy also got me thinking about the parameters around the daytime sleep – Hannah is the centre of my world, but I don’t turn the TV off, I don’t speak in hushed tones (actually I’m on my own at the moment so I’d be worried if I was shouting) and I haven’t dismantled the door chime. I’m concerned that doing all of those things will encourage poor sleeping habits, and if I’m honest I want to carry on with my day and sometimes that involves noise. I don’t mean to say that the house shouldn’t be quiet and I know that Hannah needs a calm and quiet environment in which to sleep. I have turned the TV down, the curtains in her room are drawn and when I go upstairs I tiptoe as if the stairs are about to fall in. I just don’t want to take it to extremes and I want Hannah to know that Mummy is in charge (or at least tries to be).
There is, of course, an opposite side to the coin. About 2 years ago I was visiting a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while. In fact I had never met her 2 year old boy but I was vaguely surprised when she told me to text her when I was outside her door because her little guy was asleep. When I got in to the house I was asked to whisper instead of speaking normally (I thought this was odd because the little boy’s bedroom was at the other side of the (big) house) and was given special slippers in case I wanted to move from the settee. Am I cruel or mean for thinking that was extreme? Likewise I was amused when she told me that she sometimes affixes notices to her door asking callers to ring her mobile instead of knocking on the door when her son is asleep. I still don’t really understand why she wanted to advertise her mobile number to the whole neighbourhood but each to his own.
For me, so long as you aren’t holding a disco in your front room it should be fine to make a little noise during the day. In fact some noise can help babies – I know some mothers who swear that their vacuum cleaner helps their babies to nod off. I haven’t tried that one yet but I might do. If you have any other tips or advice, do let me know. I’d be really interested to know which side of the fence people tend to come down on so I’ve added a poll to this blog to find out.
OK, so this post is nearing its end and I am sure you are dying to know whether Hannah is still asleep. When the delivery man came she did stir but then drifted off again so I am yet to discover whether the new sleep policy will work. Lucky me – I now have time to empty the dishwasher….
I was kicking myself for having trained my baby to sleep like a log in her own cot with minimal fuss. To sleep, she won’t be held, she won’t be sitting up, she won’t even be stroked. All she needs is to lie down in her cot and have her dream sheep on. Sure it’s inconvenient when I’m out to lunch, but as I lie here on the bed next to her waiting for her to go to sleep in an unfamiliar house, I can’t help but be a little but grateful for the fact that I get to have a little 15 minute escape from whatever I’m doing and to have a little lie down myself.